Today’s mission was to ride the Ducati Scrambler to New Idria. Why, you may ask, did I want to ride the Scrambler to New Idria? Did I feel some compelling need to visit abandoned mercury mines? Was this part of some plan to tour all of America’s Superfund sites? And how could I hope to reach a destination that was far outside my fuel range on a road that was far above my skill level? A man must have a dream! To set the stage, here’s a photo before I set out. In keeping with the ‘toxic waste’ theme of this mission, I’ve included my neigbbor’s trash can. f you plan to explore the Panoche area – particularly if you’re on a bike with a 120 mile range – it’s essential to fill up at the country store in sunny Tres Pinos. This is the Last Gas Station On Earth. If you pass it by, hoping to find another, Darwin will pick your bones. The Tres Pinos Water District building is across the street. I think it deserves a photo. You won’t find anything like this at Facebook, Apple, or Google! The turnoff for Panoche is five miles past the Last Gas Station On Earth. That’s where the fun begins. When I rode this road on my Tiger, it was glorious. Surely it would be even more fun on a bike with a much stiffer spring rate, much firmer shocks, and 2/3 the suspension travel. Or so I thought. A valuable lesson awaited me. By the time I reached the top of the first twisty bit, I had learned the error of my ways. I also wished I’d packed a spare set of kidneys. I considered calling it a day and slinking home with my tail between my legs, but.. slinking,… where’s the fun in that? Also, it would have been a crime against the Awesome Landscape Gods to turn back on a road like this, so I gritted my teeth and pressed on. Well, actually, I didn’t grit my teeth, since I wanted to keep them, but you get the idea. After a certain amount of joy and abuse – the moto equivalent of S&M, perhaps – I reached what had always been the realistic goal for the day: the Griswold Hills Day Use Area. I have no idea who Griswold was, or what he used these hills for during the day, but every time I’m here, I stop, get off the bike, look around, and think, “Who would ever believe that all this empty landscape is only an hour and half ride from Silicon Valley?” More griswolds. Perhaps this wasn’t a name. Perhaps it’s a noun meaning something like ‘a region of empty landscape only an hour and half ride from Silicon Valley’. I still had 10-15 miles before I was down to half tank, so I decided to press on. I had no hope of reaching the end of the county maintained road, which is where the fun really begins for people who – unlike me – actually know how to ride, but I was curious to see how far I could get. Also, I couldn’t turn back yet. Would you? That’s it. That’s as far as I got. The mission was a pointless failure in the middle of nowhere. But it was great pointless failure, and doing it on what might not have been the best possible bike for the job was character-building experience.